We're trying to settle back down here at ALLi Towers, after an exhilarating and exhausting three days at London Book Fair (LBF). It was wonderful to meet so many members and other writers and publishing people there. As you'll see below, we partied and networked, taught and learned, and did our bit to forward the good cause of author empowerment.
The first time I attended London Book Fair (LBF) it was as a literary agent who was also, primarily, a writer and I was shocked by the absence of authors from the proceedings. That was 2006. Last year, when a small group of us gathered at London Book Fair to launch The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), we felt we were doing something almost revolutionary, to be bringing self-published writers into the commercial heart of the industry.
What a difference a year makes in publishing these days. This year, LBF saw ALLi take centre stage for the launch of our book, Choosing A Self-Publishing Service, in The Author Lounge. We had Mark Coker and Steena Holmes at The Digital Minds Conference. Joanna Penn and I gave seminars as part of the Love Learning series. There were ongoing panel talks, advice and workshops in The Author Lounge. Good friends of ALLi including David Gaughran, Brian Felsen of BookBaby, Mark Lefvebre of Kobo, and Thom Kephart of Amazon congregated to help us celebrate our book launch and first birthday. And, most importantly, almost 100 ALLi members turned out over the three days (a special thanks to Mick Rooney for coming all the way from Amsterdam) to meet, connect share and — as ever with indie authors — learn from one another.
2013: The Year Of The Author
Everybody was talking of 2013 as “the year of the author” at LBF, of how authors are moving to the heart of the fair, and to the heart of publishing (as if they should ever have been anywhere else). It was undeniable. Authoright curated the Lounge with a non-stop, stimulating stream of packed out events, and authors were clearly avid to connect. On more than one occasion, bouncers had to come and move people away because the area was becoming a fire hazard.
The Lounge was dubbed “the beating heart of LBF2013” and a comment we heard over and again was: “We're going to need a lot more space next year”. I agree.
I would also dearly like to see more space given to hands-on learning and education around writing, reaching readers, and self-publishing.
LBF, like all such fairs, is full of service providers touting their wares. As the bottom falls out of the trade publishing market, more and more services are specifically targeting authors as a revenue stream.
But if putting the author at the centre of the fair is to mean more than selling us services, we need to understand, and then feed back, what we'd most like to experience in the Author Lounge — what would be most useful and beneficial to writers and readers.
And that includes writers who are already doing it well. While the line-up at the Lounge was super-interesting if you were starting out, most ALLi members were very au fait with the concepts and tools being discussed. I'd love to see a second, Pro Author Lounge, at LBF, and at all book fairs and literary events. Such a venue would be packed with indie authors who, when it comes to knowing how to harness technologies and reach their readers, are way ahead of trade published authors, and the trade itself.
A Creative Industry
The book business lost its way when it put commercial concerns ahead of the creative, now there's an opportunity to redress that sad imbalance — not just tilt the commerce towards a new customer, the author.
Too often, we find author services throwing smoke and mirrors and mystique around the technologies and processes of publishing (…all the better to sell to you, my dear…). Quality education, on the other hand, costs little and delivers much. It takes no more than two hours to equip a writer with the tools needed to go away and self-publish successfully.
Another part of the author-services equation is writers who underestimate their own abilities, or overestimate the challenges involved. The shift in power towards writers is making many people uncomfortable — and that includes many writers.
It's an old story: with power comes responsibility and that can be scary. It can also be exciting and extremely rewarding, as so many self-published writers ably demonstrated this year.
ALLi will continue to offer the best guidance it can along the way, not least with Choosing A Self-Publishing Service: The Indie Author Guide. And to push for real change in the direction of author empowerment.
Which, for the trade, must mean more than seeing us as a new selling opportunity.
Next time: The Author as “Entrepreneur”.
“Meanwhile, Kim’s mother Kris Jenner has defended her daughter’s surprise decision. In 2013, Botox was assayed to be the ace non-surgical cosmetictransaction with over 5 million injections. network; which already earns Kim millions per season along with her numerous other business ventures (Kardashian Kollection, magazine covers, appearances her perfumes, etc’). The well-known red outsole and high heel both are wooden but the distinct things about Christian Louboutin. Kim Kardashian and Ray J in Kim Kardashian, Superstar.
[…] For the traditional publishing world, the fair is perhaps the most traditional of all. Compared to London and even BEA, Frankfurt is old world publishing: a mecca for big deals and bigger expense accounts. […]
Just adding my voice to say a big thank you for the profile we authors finally got at LBF. About time the books business realised authors play a pivotal role! I too had been to previous LBFs and the change this year was palpable. It was uplifting and inspiring to meet fellow authors and to learn so much from them.
Many thanks. Learnt loads. Wish I could remember all the people I met. Recommended ALLi to so many that even I began to wonder if I was on commission. And I got given a naughty book and shown a Karma Sutra app with active figures. Really!
Without the Authors Lounge the LBF would have been a downbeat experience. It was an oasis amid the chaos of confusing stands and noise. And without ALLi the Lounge would just have been a resting spot for a catnap. Let’s hope when we all meet there in 2014 we will be big name authors.
I completely agree Roz and woke up thinking the same thing this morning — I’ve modified my post slightly to take that on board, as it will be circulated widely today. Thanks for the (as always) excellent feedback.
What a terrific event, Orna! So exciting! We, indies sooooo need a place to mingle/exchange ideas with like-minded souls, as well as learn and promote our books. I am definitely joining ALLI, and hope to attend the 2014 Fair, even though I’m all the way in the States.
Thanks so much Lada. We’d love to have you as a member. And we’ll be in NYC for BEA, which should be more convenient! End of May. Check it out at http://www.bookexpoamerica.com.
[…] All the indie fun of the fair. Self-published authors at #LBF13 – from the Alliance of Indepen… […]
Hi Orna! I’d like some more talks and seminars for more advanced author/publishers. Unfortunately I couldn’t make Joanna’s rousing session on advanced author marketing because it clashed with my Kobo spot. But a lot of the programming seemed to be aimed at beginners. Obviously they need their sessions too, but I’d have loved to know more about foreign rights, translations, the various platforms for selling ebooks, print and distribution. And obviously marketing as well!
ALLI has some trail-blazing author-publishers, as well as those of us who are muddling along. Would it be possible to put together some panels with those who’ve ventured into the unknown, backed by service providers or consultants? Just a thought.
I really enjoyed it and felt the Author Lounge was the best place to be oneself i.e. an author.
Yes, a blog post coming from me too, when my brain allows me to write one.
LBF2013 was just fab. I too am tired but happy, like a puppy who’s found a new packâ€¦OK, my brain is sheer mush. I will be blogging more about the Fair too soon, I learned so much, my ‘to do’ list is 4 pages long.
Thank you so much for all your efforts, Orna, the times they are changing and much of it is due to you.
It was wonderful to meet you in person Helena and, yes, let’s keep pushing that change towards author empowerment. Everyone will benefit.
A real sense of Alli as a new fundamental support for the loneliness of the long distance writer…aiming to cross the line as author. The Author Lounge was fair pandemonium, and there was a sense of ‘canvas concession’ to the instructions, seminars and Q&A’s that quite soon may merit the quietude of the Thames suite. (We may all go upstairs and look down one day!!!)
Still compared to 2007 when you hid your badge denoting yourself as ‘Author’ (what are those?)it had come some way… courtesy of the new services (Matador and Authoright) who stand to gather up the confused! This way dear…
But Alli has a few ‘warning hurdles’ to guide the unwary/ No it was a salutary correction, and one senses it is only the beginning. I spent much time talking to a printer who was talking to a wholesaler to cut deeper into the supply chain…so P.O.D may not have to be the only option for those who still like print AND matte covers!
It was lovely to meet you Philippa — only the beginning, indeed!